Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Steak Tartare

            This bistro classic is found on countless Montreal restaurant menus. There are so many variations that run the gamut from classic to modern. Because of this fact, this will probably be the first among many tartare recipes I'll be posting. This recipe is based on the one served at Beaver Hall, the only difference is that I left out the crunchy wasabi peas to keep the recipe really classic. Wasabi peas are a nice touch though, so feel free to try adding some. They can be found in most Chinese markets and are great in salmon tartare too.   
 The bulk of the work in this recipe is involved in making the tartare sauce. It's a bit more work then simply adding all the ingredients directly to the beef as most restaurants do, but is worth it for both flavor and texture. This recipe will yield far more sauce then you need for the amount of beef specified, simply because making just a few spoonfuls of tartare sauce is not practical. The leftover sauce can be kept for about 1 week in the fridge and goes great with fish and chips (recipe coming soon.) You can simplify the process by using store bought mayonnaise and then jazzing it up with the other ingredients, but making mayo at home is fun and naturally more tasty!

This recipe is for a starter size, but can be easily transformed into a main course by increasing the portion size and replacing the crackers with salad and french fries.

Start to finish 30 minutes, serves 4

1 kg lean beef - tenderloin or sirloin
Cornichons (extra fine gherkins)
Djion mustard
cayenne pepper (optional)

for the tartare sauce:
2 egg  yolks
3 tbs   djion mustard
1 tbs   sherry vinegar
400ml vegetable oil
100ml olive oil
50g    capers
50g    cornichons
   1    French shallot
 1/2   lemon, juiced
         salt & pepper
Yields aprox. 700ml sauce

1. Mix the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender. I used an immersion blender, but a regular blender will work fine. Slowly add the oil while constantly blending. Do not add the oil too quickly or else the sauce will break. If a layer of oil collects at the top, wait for it to incorporate before adding more oil. The vegetable and olive oil and be added in any order. If the mayonnaise becomes too thick, you can thin it with a little water.  

2.Slice the cornichions and chop the parsley and shallots, then add them to the mayonnaise. Add the capers and then pulse the blender for less then a second to incorporate the ingredients. Add a few drops of Tabasco and Worcestershire.

3. Cut the beef into thin slices, then cut each slice into strips. Cut the strips of beef into small cubes. Work quickly to keep the beef cold. A metal mixing bowl set inside another bowl that has been filled with ice will keep the beef chilled while cutting and mixing the tartare. 
4. Add about 6 large spoonfuls of tartare sauce to the beef and stir until evenly coated.  

To assemble:

1. Use a teaspoon to place a small dot of djion mustard on each plate, then quickly run the spoon through the mustard to get the "painter's pallet" effect. 
2. Divide the mixed tartare among the 4 plates using a large spoon to form the portions into a ball (a "quenelle.")
 - if someone would like their tartare extra spicy, serve the regular tartares first, then add a pinch of cayenne to the mix. 
3. Garnish each plate with crackers and pickles.

Coming soon: Beer Battered Fish and Chips. Also, if there is a dish that you really enjoyed at a restaurant recently and would like me to do a recipe based on it, let me know and I'll see if I can come up with one. Bon Appetit!


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